Sunday, October 23, 2011

I had a "huh?" moment

It's true that what we see is profoundly influenced by what we know. In effect, our preconceptions act as a filter to the act of seeing. As evidence, I offer this:

I saw the photo and thought, "Cool bike! I wonder who carries Scott in Tulsa?" Then I read the tab up above. It says, "A Prosthetic Limb That Lets Amputees..."

Huh? It was only then that I realized the rider has a prosthesis.

This received the James Dyson Award, a competition for student design that calls for designs that solve a problem. The prosthesis is capable of the complex motion involved in cycling, and besides, the carbon fiber clearly complements the frame. I have to wonder if they offer titanium or steel models too.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Looking for work...

No, I haven't lost my job.

I've been writing for Demand Media since last spring, but the number of available titles has dwindled down to nothing. This week, they announced that their top writers would get first dibs on new titles, and those titles wouldn't be available to those of us in the great unwashed for two days. Given that the number of titles has been mostly zero, I expect my writing over there is done.

Oddly, their management people decided on a grammar score of 4.0 (out of 5) as the cut off point. Mine has been at 3.8 since I started. Yes, that's right - I started at 3.8 and it hasn't changed since 2009, which is doubly odd since I actually began writing for them in April this year. Something smells fishy.

Also - and those of you who know me will find this somewhat out of character - I ruffled a few feathers when I called one of their editors an asshole. In his defense, I can say that he had both a natural inclination and a lot of effort going for him. Some people are born assholes while others struggle mightily to attain that status. This one did both. He is to be commended.

While I wasn't kicked out, I did get a sternly worded e-mail warning me to treat their editors with professional decorum, something I will observe scrupulously in the future...unless some twee pontificating little basta.....I get annoyed when someone who doesn't understand the technical aspects of electronic troubleshooting and repair tries to tell me how it should be done. It's kind of like having someone who can't drive attempt to design a superhighway, or someone who doesn't ride a bike trying to design a bike lane. Oh, wait, that latter bit is what we have already. Never mind.

So I'm looking for another writing venue, preferably one that deals in tech issues that are familiar, like soldering, trouble shooting, and computer repair. I'd even write about bicycle repair, but remember, my knowledge is woefully out of date! Besides, when it came to the idiosyncrasies of mid-1970s French bikes, the late Sheldon Brown had it covered.

If any of you can give me a nudge in the right direction, feel free to nudge.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eduardo Leonardo de Painto

Yes, that's our mentally challenged cat.
Eventually, he figured out how to get down.

Here's an excellent way to test a knee joint. Climb a ladder. Apply paint to a wall. Climb down. Move the ladder. Climb back up again. Repeat until you're slightly mad. Not the angry kind of mad, but the tin-foil-hat-and-the-aliens-are-out-to-kidnap-me kind of mad. Above all, do not watch football games from atop a ladder.

The living room painting is finished, but much to my dismay, there's a gallon of paint left over. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed pointed out that "we" can use it to paint the hallway, too. Oh, joy!

When I get dehydrated, I get dizzy. Frankly, being atop a long step ladder was slightly intimidating though thankfully the dizziness didn't kick in. I drank lots of water. The left leg cramped at night, something that I've learned to live with over the years, and it didn't seem any worse than usual.

Still, sanity must be maintained, so when I've had a chance to get away for a few hours, I've been taking photos of whatever is interesting. Some examples:

Not all ratty Brit cars come from Texas. Just most of them. Up north, the road salt and the elements have already reduced them to piles of rust with paint flecks.

This is one of the trails at the Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa. This is actually a high dynamic range photo as I tried to get detail in the deep shade and two people approaching. It didn't work, though, because the white areas are way over exposed. Still, I like the boards and leaves.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 03, 2011

That's the sound a starter motor makes when the battery can't deliver enough current to make it turn and the starter solenoid pops in and out. It's a sure sign of a dead battery or a charging system malfunction.

Yesterday, I noticed the interior dome light was yellowish as the car started. Sure, I knew the battery was going bad and would have to be replaced soon, but I was hoping to get through the next day or two since there's much to be done today. Wishful thinking on my part.

I've been painting the living room and it was down to a routine. Climb up the ladder. Paint. Climb down. Move the ladder and climb up again. Repeat endlessly. I tried to watch the Steelers as they lost to Houston, and occasionally shouted at the television from atop the ladder. Two more rules of thumb occurred to me. First, don't wave your arms around while holding a paint brush. Second, don't wave your arms around while standing on a ladder.

All that up and down stuff did a number on my legs. I'm careful about climbing with my bad knee and I always follow the rule I learned from a physical therapist a very long time ago - the good goes up and the bad goes down. It applies equally to stairs, curbs, and ladders. As for the evangelical implications, well, you're on your own. Step up with the good leg, but step down with the bad one. That way the good leg is controlling the motion.

By the end of the afternoon both legs were little more than chunks of wood. I took some aspirin and had a shower. I actually looked forward to returning to work in the morning because it's physically easier than painting. Besides, my crew chief brought in three fresh computers for modifications, meaning I'll be busy all week. It makes the time go quickly.

But in the pre-dawn darkness this morning, my stomach sank when all I could get from the car was that dreaded "" Putting the charger on the battery didn't help. I called my friend Wade for a ride to the auto parts store and set about taking the battery out.

Pontiac has an anti-theft device in the radio that is supposed to disable the radio if the power is removed. It gets a code from the car's computer somehow, and if that code is blanked - say, if the radio is stolen - the unit won't work. I learned this the hard way when Number One Daughter's battery died in her car. Our local GM dealer and full-time pirate, wanted $85 to reinstall the code. I pointed out that I could replace the radio with an after market unit for the same price. I had some unkind thoughts about what he could do with that parrot on his shoulder, too.

My own radio was secondary this morning. I had to get the car working again because there are a couple of errands that must be done this afternoon, including a trip to downtown Tulsa. So with Wade's help and a nice check in the hands of the friendly guy at the auto parts store, my car now has a spankin' new battery. I lost only a few pieces of skin and very little blood.

But I've been pondering this question all morning. Whatever happened to those $49.95 car batteries? This new one was more than twice that amount. I turned in the old one to avoid a core charge. That ensures the lead is recycled, right? Basically, then, I'm buying those same lead plates over and over every time I replace a battery! Maybe I can get a better price if I charge them for using MY lead.